TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – The Seibu Lions grabbed the top spot in the Pacific League on Wednesday, sinking the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 4-1 after Tomoya Mori connected on a three-run double with two outs in the third.
Starting a half-game behind the Hawks, the Lions made their opportunities count on a milestone night at MetLife Dome for closer Tatsushi Masuda, who recorded his 100th career save.
The win puts the PL pennant holders atop the standings for the first time this season, with the Japan Series champion Hawks falling into second place for the first time since June 24.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Mori sent a powerful line drive into the right field corner on his first pitch from Hawks starter Rei Takahashi.
“It was a big moment in an important game, so I was really motivated,” said the Lions catcher, who came in leading the PL with a .339 average.
The clutch hit scored Yuji Kaneko, Shogo Akiyama and Sosuke Genda, taking Mori to 96 RBIs on the season, with only teammates Hotaka Yamakawa and Takeya Nakamura ahead of him in the PL standings.
Seibu starter Zach Neal (10-1) registered his ninth straight win, throwing seven innings in which he struck out a pair, while allowing seven hits and no walks.
His sole earned run came in the top of the fifth, when Alfredo Despaigne led off with his 33rd homer of the year.
Takahashi (11-4) took the loss after a six-inning start in which he surrendered three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out four.
Eagles 3, Fighters 1
At Tokyo Dome, Ginji Akaminai hit a two-RBI single in the top of the ninth to push Tohoku Rakuten past Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 4
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin belted a two-run homer as the Marines rallied for four runs in the bottom of the second, on the way to a win over Orix.
BayStars 10, Giants 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Neftali Soto went deep three times, extending his league-leading home run tally to 39, in a win over Yomiuri.
Dragons 3, Carp 2 (10)
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yota Kyoda hit a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the 10th for Chunichi.
Tigers 10, Swallows 3